Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How to Get People to Stop Doing Things that Bug You

A few years ago, I spent two hours reading internet webpages about how to be more punctual.  I've struggled with being non-punctual throughout my life, and it's always one of my New Year's Resolutions.

One page talked about how if you are trying to get your late friend to improve, it is not productive to say "You are late again!  You're always late!  Why are you perpetually late!  You are just a late inconsiderate person!"  That reaffirms in their head that part of their self-identity involves being late.  You've said they're selfish, and they'll sink to your expectations.

Instead the web page suggested you say, "You're late -- how unlike you."  Then the person will want to rise up to the expectation that they're characteristically punctual.

I realized as soon as I read the words that this would totally work on me.  

If it is too disingenuous to imply that they're punctual, you could use a variant such as "You're late -- how unlike you, since you're usually so thoughtful about everyone".


When I lived in my Mountain View townhouse, I threw parties every year or so.  After the second one, both of my neighbors complained.  One wrote me an angry note that said, "You threw a loud party again!  This is unacceptable!  We complained last year, and you did it again!"

The other said, "I know you're a considerate person, so I want to let you know that the noise from your party disrupted several of us.  Thanks -- you've been a good neighbor."

Which one do you think made me feel sheepish and determined to go the extra mile to make absolutely sure it never happened again?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Oh snap! Photos

Tom, Potamus, James, and I went to a small island for a weekend.

The 3 of them cooked dinner. My job was to take photos during the preparation, and to do dishes.

Me: "I'm done with photos!"

Tom: [looking at the photos I took] "No, your job was to take *good* photos. You haven't started yet."

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Fantastic Feast

Yuichi invited ten people to dinner at House of Prime Rib.  Yuichi is the recruiter at Minted.

He created a Minted party bunting banner that said FANTASTIC FEAST.  He then called the restaurant four times asking if he can hang the banner over the dinner table.

Three times, the restaurant said he needed to wait until the manager is available to speak with him.  On the fourth time, the manager answered and said no.

I find it so endearing that Yuichi cared enough to call the restaurant four times.  When you learn to do creative writing, the writing books teach that the most important factor to making a character interesting is to make him want something a lot.

It's very compelling when someone has a strong goal.  It makes you automatically want to help them achieve that goal.

James and I now say "Fantastic Feast!" when we're faced with good food.

We also adapted this to when we make mistakes.  We say "Gigantic Gaffe!" and "Enormous Error!" and "Fantastic Fiasco!"